BY PAMELA FAYERMAN
As of today, healthcare workers and residents in long term care will be the priority for COVID-19 immunizations – a most precious resource due to limited supply and great demand.
There have been reports of brazen queue-jumping all around the world.
In British Columbia, there are about 70,000 residents and staff of long-term care and assisted living facilities in B.C. and as of this week, they are the focus of immunizations with the Moderna vaccine. An internal memo to Vancouver Coastal Health, obtained by MedicineMatters.ca, attempts to quiet the criticisms by some who believe there have been stumbles at the start of the vaccination campaign.
As I reported in my last article, frontline healthcare workers who’ve accounted for a 151% increase in COVID-19 infections in just the last six weeks, were lining up for hours on their days off at a “pop up” clinic near Vancouver Hospital last week. As well, BC Nursing Union president Christine Sorensen told CBC that administrators have jumped the queue even though they don’t provide direct patient care.
But as I reported here, administrators who work in health care have been hard hit by COVID too, accounting for 204 cases as of Dec. 17. That’s six percent of all B.C. cases among those who work in health care. They didn’t necessarily get infected at their workplaces and the same can be said for all care aides and nurses who together account for the most cases among healthcare workers.
The controversies could die down a bit over the next few weeks as the aforementioned memo from pandemic planning leaders Dr. Ross Brown and Dr. Chad Kim Sing (below) makes it clear that long term care (LTC) staff and residents are now the priority since the vast majority of deaths have occurred in seniors residential care. The referenced meeting called for Jan. 20, 2021, could have some fireworks. Here’s the internal memo to VCH staff:
Just over 8,000 vaccinations have been completed in B.C. before Christmas and the goal is to complete 400,000 by March, 2021.
These are B.C.’s plans for vaccinations, based on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization:
First priority groups
- Long-term care and assisted living facility residents and staff
- Health care facility staff for COVID-19 patients in settings like Intensive Care Units, COVID-19 wards and emergency departments
- Indigenous people living in rural or remote communities
- High-risk people living in group settings like shelters
- People over 80 years old
Second priority groups
In spring 2021, as more vaccine becomes available, the second phase of vaccination will begin for:
- Older people under age 80 in descending five-year-age groups, with a focus on the oldest people first
- Key frontline workers including:
- All other healthcare workers
- Fire and first responders
- People working in grocery stores
- People working in K to 12 education settings and child care providers
- People working in transportation
- People working in manufacturing and production facilities
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